Nine to tie. Ten to break.
For the first three sets, there's no doubt those numbers were on the minds of all the Caldwell County Lady Tigers; not just on the mind of No. 15.
Records, after all, are made to be broken; and significant volleyball history was accomplished on Tuesday night at Paducah Tilghman.
Jessie Stone's record of 1,048 career kills, held nearly seven years, was broken by middle-hitting fiend Olivia Mitchell, but it wouldn't have meant as much to the consummate team player if the Lady Tigers hadn't pulled out the win too.
For a while, things didn't look quite so optimistic as Tilghman took the first two sets, but once Mitchell broke the record early in the third set, the Lady Tigers stormed back for an unreal comeback to win in five sets 20-25, 24-26, 25-18, 25-16, and 15-7.
Mitchell had 22 kills with nine digs and three aces.
Savanna Tays had 36 total set assists with six digs and five kills, Kynady Thomas had four kills and three blocks, Kendyll Powell finished with three kills and 14 set assists, Adi Sullinger contributed four aces, Abby Griggs had 10 kills, Riley Thomas had a team-high 22 digs and Mary Tays was consistent with six kills, five digs and five aces.
"Once we got that out of the way and kind of got to focus, Tilghman brought their best match. We didn't practice on Monday, we gave them a day off to rest, so we really hadn't touched a ball since Saturday," Caldwell head coach Daniel Cortner said. "It took us a little bit to get in our rhythm, figure them out, study them and get a little gameplan together about that mid-second set."
For Mitchell, a junior, there seems to be no end in sight to her record setting capabilities.
After breaking 1,000 kills at Hopkinsville last weekend to become just the second Lady Tiger to accomplish such a feat, Mitchell knew the record was coming this week.
"We came out slow, but we sped up and gained energy and started dancing and giggling," Mitchell said. "That really helped us as a team, because we are a fun team. Without my team, I wouldn't have that opportunity. I think we're doing pretty good right now. As long as we come out hot, I think we'll be pretty fine up there."
With half the regular season remaining, along with the postseason and All-A State Tournament, not to mention her entire senior season ahead of her, 1,500 career kills might not be out of reach for Mitchell by the time all is said and done in her high school volleyball career.
Even so, the number one priority at Paducah Tilghman on Tuesday night in primetime action was a win; and the Lady Tigers spun up the Lady Blue Tornado and broke what was a four-game winning streak for coach Carl Eligio and Tilghman.
Emily Shumaker (92 kills on the season through 12 games) and Katelyn Shumaker (83 kills on the season in 12 games) were quite effective, but Caldwell County cooled off Tilghman (8-6) for one of their biggest regular season victories thus far.
The Lady Tigers (10-3) secured their 10th W of the season to bounce back after a loss to Graves County last Saturday.
Powell (who also recently broke into the 1,000 mark in assists, moving into the top four all-time in program history for the category) helped the Lady Tigers with her assist numbers on this night, but if the Lady Tigers were going to come away victors at Tilghman, the speed was going to have to pick up against a front-line minded program.
A lack of communication early contributed to a 15-12 deficit in set one. Tilghman took a 17-13 lead into Caldwell Count's first timeout of the evening.
Tilghman would lead by as many as seven in set number one at 20-13 before a serving error.
Caldwell County got back within 22-19, but set point came on a tip to send Tilghman up 1-0 at 25-20.
In set two, the adrenaline seemed to still be lacking for the Lady Tigers, who went down 6-2 early in the frame.
A kill by Prowell tied things back up at 6-6, and Mitchell gave them the lead with her fourth kill of the night.
The Lady Tigers pushed for a 14-11 slight command soon after, but misfires allowed Tilghman to score five straight and 10 of the next 11 overall to regain the lead at 21-15.
Caldwell crawled within 22-21, and Prowell's serving tied it at 24-24, but Tilghman closed out set two for a seemingly comfortable 2-0 lead.
Then came set three, where the nerves seemed to melt away as Mitchell finally broke the all-time kill record at 1,049 early in the set for an 8-4 and 15-10 Caldwell start.
Tilghman got within 20-18, but Caldwell took the set 25-18.
Set four was Caldwell County's from the get-go, going up 7-2 as they started to stack up Tilghman's errors.
The play of the set was no doubt a huge recovery dig by Mary Tays, and Mitchell carried the rolling Lady Tigers to a 2-2 tie at 25-16 and a fifth and decisive set.
The Lady Tigers jumped out to a 6-3 start, and went on to score nine of the final 13 points.
Savannah Tays came up with a huge block to go up 8-4, then came a kill from Mitchell at 9-4 and again at 12-7.
In the end, errors paralyzed Tilghman, and match point game on a serve from Mitchell, fittingly enough for a come from behind win that had to be seen to have been believed on Tuesday night.
Coach Cortner and Caldwell County now sets sail for Richmond at Eastern Kentucky this weekend in what will be their 10th trip to the All-A State Tournament after winning their latest Region 2 title last Wednesday at Fort Campbell.
The Lady Tigers begin pool play with Christian Fellowship Friday night, a team they have already defeated this season, hoping to recapture memories of the majesty of the 2010 title.
Pikeville and Bishop Brossart will also be in the D pool, as the Lady Tigers will then play Bishop Brossart Saturday morning before the start of the championship and consolation rounds.
The Lady Tigers fell to Kentucky Country Day in 2017's All-A State Tournament quarterfinals and also came up just short in 2009 in a championship semifinals loss to Louisville Holy Cross a decade ago under former head coach Sue Stone.
Lady Tigers tie UHA 2-2 on Tuesday
Though it wasn't a win, the 2-2 tie that Caldwell County Lady Tigers forced with the Region 2 All-A Champion University Heights Academy on Tuesday was commendable.
Playing 24 hours after a come-from-behind win over Murray High that took penalty kicks to win in the All-A sectional game, the Lady Blazers took a while to get their sea legs.
Kaylee McEnaney would have five shots, but her dish to Hannah Young put the Lady Tigers up 1-0 in the first 20 minutes before the Lady Blazers came up with two goals; one by Grace Pape in the 31st for the tie at 1-1 heading to the half.
Caldwell County (5-4-1) fell behind minutes later on a goal by Emma Perry past Karsyn Parker for the 2-1 deficit.
Then came Morgan McDaniels, who came up with a goal in the nick of time near the 70th on a pass from Kelsie Adams to tie it 2-2, where the score would remain despite several looks to take the lead in the final moments.
University Heights (5-2-1) was held to their first tie of the season thanks to Caldwell County's tenacious defense, despite back to back goals.
It was Caldwell County's (1-7-1) second straight home game at Butler Stadium, with a third straight home game coming Thursday against Hopkinsville and a chance for a 2-0-1 week without a loss.
Parker had six keeper saves for the Lady Tigers.
Tigers hold 3-3 tie at Fort Campbell
Speaking of ties, the Caldwell County Tigers had their own 3-3 tie on the road late at Fort Campbell on Tuesday, with perhaps their most inspirational effort of the season; coming back from down 3-0 in the last moments.
The Falcons would score on half their goal attempts, but the Tigers eventually cashed in on their 18 shots to force the tie with three goals in the second half.
The Falcons (2-7-1) took a 3-0 halftime lead on goals by Rafael Cerritos (two goals and an assist) and Antonio Cervantes (one goal and one assist), all in the span of less than 20 minutes.
The Tigers began their crawl early in the second half on Blake Vivrette's first goal, then Vivrette's second goal in the final 10 minutes sliced the deficit to 3-2.
Grayden Miller, fittingly as the second leading scorer for the Tigers, had his fifth goal of the season just before stoppage time to tie the match 3-3.
Caldwell County would get the Lyons in an All-A instant classic rematch from two weeks ago on Thursday night, after the Lyons came back from down 1-0 to win 2-1 back on September 3.
Lady Lyons grab early-week win
After a near-win at Christian County (a 5-4 loss that saw two goals apiece by Emily Smith and Rose Smith), the Lady Lyons finally broke through to end the three-game losing streak by defeating Crittenden County 2-1 on Tuesday night; holding a team to one goal or less for the second time this season.
Abby Smith finished with 12 keeper saves for the Lady Lyons and, as the Lady Lyon defense has been the most shaky inconsistency early in the season, it wasn't on this night.
Christa Cummins, Abby Crawford and Kate Gray helped hold the Lady Rockets to just one goal.
The Lady Lyons (6-5) got back over the .500 mark, and also had the home crowd cheering them on at Lee S. Jones Park Tuesday night, and Rose Smith's 26 goal of the season helped put the Lady Lyons in control for good.
Destiny Dycus had the other goal for Lyon County, and also assisted on Smith's goal.
A District 5 matchup would await the Lady Lyons on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Trigg County before a Saturday matinee match at Hopkins County Central.
Webster County (2-4-1) would have their way when they wanted it most of the time, snagging a 10-0 win over the Lyon County Lyons (2-8-1) on Tuesday night ons senior night, getting goals from Santos Portillo (2), Joel McCormick (2), Timothy Maddox Catlin (2), Dawson McVay, Marvin Francisco, Drew Jackson and Henry Portillo.
There was simply no offense from the Lyons, who had one shot on goal in a route by Webster.
Webster County, which hadn't won since opening night against Caldwell County, defeated their rival in Lyon County, and kept keeper Cole Schroeder busy with 28 saves against the 10 goals scored.
Schroeder certainly had his work cut out for him, but the Lyons would have a chance to sweep the Caldwell County Tigers on Thursday night in Eddyville in what would be a significant bounce back opportunity.
Lyon County took down Caldwell 2-1 back in early September. The Lyons JV team would get a 5-0 win over Webster County, though, with a hat trick from Timothy Stewart.